United Airlines Will Fly from New York JFK Airport again starting March 28, 2021, after a 6 year hiatus, “competing aggressively” on premium transcontinental routes to California. United will face competition from JetBlue Mint on the A321, the only U.S. carrier to offer a suite with closing doors in its business class.
United will fly from New York JFK to LAX and to SFO on 767-300ER aircraft that have United Polaris flatbed business class (46 open suites); United Premium Plus seating (22 seats); Economy Plus (47 standard seats with 3 extra inches of legroom) and Economy (52 seats).
When flying United Polaris Business Class on these 767-300ERs, we recommend window seats 3A, 3L, 5A, 5L, 9A, 9L, 11A and 11L because they are closer to the window than even row window seats, while not being too close to the lavatories/galleys or having misaligned windows such as the seats in rows 15 and 17. Apparently someone's superstitious, since there's no row 13 (or even row 14, for that matter) on this aircraft.
New York JFK to California
- Depart JFK 7pm, Arrive LAX 10:29pm (UA 517) starts 3/28/21, operating 3/28/21 and 3/29/21 the first week and daily in April 2021
- Depart JFK 9am, Arrive LAX 11:37am (UA 515) starts 4/1/21, operating daily
- Depart JFK 5:10pm, Arrive SFO 8:44pm (UA 523) starts 3/28/21, operating 3/28/21 and 3/29/21 the first week and daily in April 2021
- Depart JFK 8am, Arrive SFO 11:37am (UA 521) starts 4/1/21, operating daily
California to New York JFK
- Depart LAX 7:30am, Arrive JFK 3:50pm (UA 514) starts 3/28/21, operating 3/28/21 and 3/29/21 the first week and daily in April 2021
- Depart LAX 2:30pm, Arrive JFK 10:50pm (UA 516) starts 4/1/21, operating daily
- Depart SFO 9:10am, Arrive JFK 5:50pm (UA 520) starts 3/28/21, operating 3/28/21 and 3/29/21 the first week and daily in April 2021
- Depart SFO 1:30pm, Arrive JFK 5:40pm (UA 522) starts 4/1/21, operating daily
At time of writing, rates for the early February 2021 flights were $469 each way between JFK and LAX and $499 each way between JFK and SFO, less than the $549-$1049 each way that JetBlue is charging for JetBlue Mint service.
It was certainly a head scratcher for many New Yorkers when United stopped flying from JFK in 2015, consolidating all of its international operations and even most domestic flights at Newark Airport EWR. While Newark is great if you live in New Jersey or perhaps near the Port Authority, where you can take a New Jersey Transit train, it's fairly inconvenient for many in New York City to get to, especially if coming from the East side of the city.
With COVID-19 and the resulting drop in flying (airline capacity in New York state is down 70% in October 2020, compared to the same period last year), United is betting that it can secure slots at JFK, although it's unclear which airline's slots it's planning to purchase.
CEO Scott Kirby has previously bemoaned United's 2015 decision to leave JFK, which was taken under previous CEO Jeff Smisek. Smisek had pointed out that United had lost money on the JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO routes for seven years, and United's lease was expiring.
But as Kirby pointed out, many of the customers on these United routes wanted to fly into New York, not New Jersey; United lost them as passengers with the switch to Newark.
If United does return to JFK, perhaps the additional competition will check the increased fares JetBlue has been able to charge for Mint on its JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO routes, which range from $799 to $1649 one way during peak holiday periods.
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